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Whiting’s 100th Birthday Right around the Corner

Lifelong Bellingham resident George Whiting continues to live an active and fruitful life as he approaches 100.

Bulletin Staff Writer
George Whiting often quotes Ben Franklin’s saying: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.’’
The 99-year-old Whiting, who was born in Bellingham in 1924, turns 100 on April 12 and there’s no doubt that the soon-to-be centenarian has lived a life that personifies health and wisdom. His honorable, compassionate nature, his relentless work ethic and his family and friends are what he calls “his wealth.’’
“The keys to my longevity are eating the right food, a minimum of eight hours of sleep every day and staying active,’’ Whiting said. “Since I grew up on a farm, the right food for me is eggs, beef, chicken, vegetables, and fruits. I don’t drink alcohol or smoke.’’Whiting lives on Scott Street in the same house where he was born. There’s a room in the farmhouse that he’s labeled “the birth/death room.’’
“Family members have been born in it and died in it,’’ he said. “I use it as my bedroom, and it’s where my wife Kathryn passed away in 2021. We were married for 76 years.’’
The Whitings had two children (Dale and Kathy) and three grandchildren. “Dale lives nearby, and he and his wife (Helen) have helped me with household things,’’ Whiting said. “I’ve been blessed with good health, wonderful children and a great church family.’’
Whiting’s health has played a major role in what’s been an active life. He chopped wood and drove a tractor into his mid-90s, and he still mows his lawn on a sit-down mower. 
“My one big health issue occurred when I was 17,’’ he said. “I had rheumatic fever, and that condition prevented me to serve in the military when World War II began.’’
A 1941 graduate of Bellingham High, Whiting was a straight-A student. When he was a sixth-grader, his principal told him his last two weeks in Grade 6 would be spent in Grade 7, then he would advance to Grade 8.
Whiting’s parents (Warren and Elizabeth) owned a chicken farm that started small then grew to include 15,000 chickens and a multitude of buildings over 61 acres. “At one point, we were selling eggs and up to 100 chickens a week,’’ Whiting recalled. “We had five employees and two trucks for deliveries.’’
The farm was prosperous, but the hurricane of 1938 demolished much of it. “We had help from people in town to rebuild it,’’ Whiting said. “Later on, at age 40, I went to hairdresser school, got my license and joined Kathryn in that business. I liked to say that I went from chicks to chicks when we gave up the poultry business.’’ 
Over time, some of the land was sold, and Whiting’s house and barn currently sit on 15 acres. 
Still attending the First Baptist Church in Bellingham, Whiting has been an active member there for 83 years. He still serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and is the church’s patriarch. His wife was also active in church ministries and was revered as its matriarch.
The couple traveled extensively, especially to the west where their daughter resides in Colorado. “We bought a motor home and visited 47 states,’’ Whiting said. “The three we didn’t visit are Hawaii, Alaska and Idaho.’’
To put Whiting’s life in perspective, he was five years old when the stock market crashed in 1929, he was 17 when World War II began, Calvin Coolidge was president when he was born, and he was 39 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
When Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, a record that stood for 34 years, Whiting was only three. But, he has a distant connection to Ruth. “My wife’s mother was a nurse who moved to New York,’’ Whiting noted. “She worked at a hospital in New York City and took care of Ruth when he was dying of cancer.’’
Whiting experienced The Great Depression in the early 1930s, and although he was still a child, he knew people were suffering. “My father was on the Board of Welfare in town,’’ he said. “He was in charge of handing out coupons for coal and food.’’
What keeps Whiting busy are cooking and other chores. He enjoys photography, is an avid reader and although he never learned to read music, he’s proficient playing the organ, harmonica, and accordion. No longer tending to vegetable gardens, he still grows African violets.
“I’ve always loved Bellingham for being a country town,’’ he said. “Cities aren’t for me. I wish Bellingham’s leaders would slow down growth and maintain open space. The warehouses and apartment complexes are too much,” observing, “Life is in the fast lane and people aren’t as socially friendly. People are in too much of a hurry.’’
After a physical last month, Whiting’s doctor gave him a clean bill of health, but also offered some advice. “Whatever you’re doing, don’t change the routine,’’ she said.
George Whiting is a remarkable man who’s lived a fruitful life. And, he’s still going strong.
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